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Deep Dive: 43 U.S. stocks that surged at least 20% in the third quarter

Despite a lengthy list of challenges — a drop in earnings at U.S. companies, high valuations for stocks, concern about rising interest rates — the benchmark S&P 500 Index rose more in the third quarter than it did in the first half of the year.

The S&P 500 SPX, +1.06% returned 4% for the third quarter (through Sept. 28). Here’s how the 10 sectors of the benchmark index performed (excluding the new real estate sector, since FactSet has only been tracking it since Sept. 19).

Sector Total return – third quarter, through Sept. 28 Total return – first half of 2016 Total return – 2016 Total return – 2015
Information Technology 12.9% -0.3% 12.5% 5.9%
Financials 4.7% -3.0% 1.5% -1.5%
Industrials 4.1% 6.5% 10.8% -2.5%
Materials 3.7% 7.5% 11.5% -8.4%
Consumer Discretionary 2.7% 0.7% 3.3% 10.1%
Health Care 1.8% 0.4% 2.2% 6.9%
Energy 1.0% 16.1% 17.3% -21.1%
Consumer Staples -2.7% 10.5% 7.5% 6.6%
Utilities -3.8% 23.4% 18.7% -4.8%
Telecommunications -5.1% 24.8% 18.4% 3.4%
S&P 500 4.0% 3.8% 8.0% 1.4%
Source: FactSet

Aside from the recovery for the energy sector, as oil prices have risen from their cycle lows in February, this year’s major themes have been investors’ flight to yield and low volatility, owing to seemingly eternal low interest rates.

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